Texts that provide support and helpful information to readers are functional texts. Functional texts run the gamut from a washing machine instruction manual to the recipe for a favorite dessert. Additional functional text examples include applications, advertisements and invitations.
Organization and reader interaction set functional texts apart from other written texts. Functional text features typically include headings, highlighted and italicized text, diagrams, maps and captions.
Strategies for effective use of functional texts include skimming, looking for information that meets a need, reading carefully for a specific topic and evaluating the details in the directions. Writers of functional texts organize information so that it is easy to find. While skipping around in a novel is not the usual practice, skimming functional text is perfectly acceptable, as readers may find only some parts of the text necessary.
While some functional texts are easy to read and comprehend, others are challenging. Sometimes the reader has to look up additional information in order to fully understand what is written.
For example, there is a substantial difference between reading a wedding invitation (a type of functional text) versus a jury summons (another type of functional text) with rigid guidelines to follow. It is crucial to become familiar with the structure of functional texts, as well as the variety that are encountered in daily life.